how to handle very low short ball

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by tonygao, Jan 3, 2012.

  1. tonygao

    tonygao Rookie

    Nov 27, 2010
    hi guys,

    I got a very specific question, please help.

    the day before yesterday I had a match against a friend, who doesn't have very big strokes, but got very good feel and seldom misses any balls. My strategy was to use inside-out FH to attack his bh as he is also 1HBH. basically he has two kinds of returns under my attack, one is a very floaty and deep cc back to my backhand side. this one is ok as I can continue my attack. what gives me lots of trouble is the other one, sometimes especially under pressure, he wslices the ball back with a very low and short ball, just slight above the net and land within service line. this shot is so low and short that normally when I get there, it's already below my knees. No matter I use slice approach or top-spin approach, it's very difficult to be offensive with it and he can easily lob me afterwards.

    so how to handle this? maybe i should practice drop shots? any good way to handle this kind of shots?

    if I can't break this pattern, I don't think I can ever beat him.

    any comments are welcome.
  2. gindyo

    gindyo Semi-Pro

    Oct 21, 2007
    well if you have such a difficulty with that particular shot and he knows it, I dont think it is such a good idea to go to it. how about attack his forehand instead. If you cant break a particular pattern go around it. Makes sense?
  3. tonygao

    tonygao Rookie

    Nov 27, 2010
    well, i did consider this option. but I can't hit to his FH all the time, right? and even though I try to hit to his FH most of the time, he can still use slice and give me the same kind of short and low ball. I don't think I can complete prevent this from occuring. so how should I handle it to maintain neutral, if not gain advantage during the rally?
  4. gindyo

    gindyo Semi-Pro

    Oct 21, 2007
    in that case the only think you can do is PRACTICE, PRACTICE and then PRACTICE some more. And if you want to hit a top spin, the most important points are: extra early preparation and bend those knees to get LOW.
    Good luck
  5. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

    Sep 28, 2010
    One thought is to return the ball low and short, up the middle of the court, and then get right up on the net. It will be hard to lob you if the ball is close to the net and he's running up. Once he's figured this out and starts running up before the return, mix this up with some low slice returns deep to the corners. Basically, if he gives you nothing, give him nothing in return.

    Depending on how much the ball sits up you can go for a bigger topspin hit. More risk, and if he stays back maybe not more reward because if you can't get enough pace and spin on it then it's going to sit up and be an easier passing shot or lob for him. If you can get some pace and spin on it then you can move it around to the corners and cause him some trouble.

    Longer term you might want to work on more pace and kick on your serve. It's harder to effectively slice in a ball that stays short and low off a hard serve and/or a serve that kicks up to your opponents shoulder or head.
  6. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

    Jun 10, 2010
    The way I see it, you have two options: (1) hit an approach shot deep dtl, or (2) hit a drop shot.

    When you hit a dtl approach, you should take away a dtl pass and force him to try to pass cross court. If your approach shot lands deep and he has to hit the ball from behind the baseline, you'll have more time to catch up to a cc pass or a lob.

    However, from your description, a drop shot may be your best option. Short low balls are ideal for drop shots because you are closer to the net making an accurate drop shot easier and giving your opponent less time to respond, and a low ball that only clears the net by a foot or two won't bounce up as high making it a more effective drop shot. After you hit the drop shot, rush the net to smother any possible return.
  7. bhupaes

    bhupaes Professional

    Aug 8, 2007
    A guy I play with has a very interesting serve. Very erratic, flat as an ironing board, and zippy but not really fast. On the glass like surface where I normally play, it zips through very often at knee height or below - ugh. In singles, this is less of a problem, but in doubles I think this can be considered a good serve, as it takes some skill to keep it away from the net man!

    The way I deal with it is to swipe it from the inside to the outside, as though I were trying to impart side spin, for both FH and BH. This way, the racquet head has some space to move, and one can hit with reasonable power and spin control. I use the same technique for low slices, since getting under the ball to impart topspin is impossible (at my skill level) for such low bounces.
  8. BirdWalkR

    BirdWalkR Rookie

    Jun 14, 2011
    hit a nadal type forehand. i do this alot when i need to add a lot of topspin onto a low ball. And as long as the pace is provided all you do is add the topspin and aim for an angle.
  9. Migelowsky

    Migelowsky Rookie

    Oct 22, 2009
    I hate those shots, you have to move faster.
    When I´m practicing with my teacher what he does is
    sends me High bouncing crosscourt balls to my forehand,
    and randomly he hits a short , sometimes sliced shots
    that land close to the service line ( it´s even worst when
    he does it to my two handed backhand ).
    You have to be always on your toes , with small quick steps
    and to hit that ball get on time, get low, and contrarest the
    slice with a more violent upward brush, you have to hit
    up because the ball will be lower than the net at contact,
    and you need the topspint to clear the net and come down again.
  10. HEADfamilydynasty

    HEADfamilydynasty Rookie

    Jun 16, 2011
    S.I., New York
    i use the same shot when someone attacks my 1hbh. my teammate normally dropshots it back or slice deep back cc or hit his 1hbh dtl. these are some options you may consider.
  11. BarNotchky

    BarNotchky New User

    Dec 18, 2011

    I can totally empathize with you. I played a guy recently who had an uncanny knack for taking balls hit deep to his backhand and blocking them CC short, low, and with no pace. What’s more he used these shots as approaches coming into net behind them.

    What gave me trouble was that I had to cover a lot of ground to reach the ball and then had to do something with this very low, no pace, ball on my 1HBH. It’s very difficult for me to generate my own pace on the run against a low ball with 1HBH. Anything short of a perfectly placed shot became easy pickings for my opponent who was waiting at the net. Lobbing this ball was not a winning strategy because the lob needed to be nearly perfect, as my opponent had a strong overhead.

    My best strategy was to avoid attacking his backhand, saving shots in that direction only as a change of pace. In retrospect I might have tried attacking his backhand with my own approach forcing him to pass.
  12. Ryoma

    Ryoma Rookie

    Jul 25, 2004
    It means you can't do anything to him with your inside out forehand. A tweak you can add to this tactic is, change your initialization shot to a cc forehand, pull him out to the deuce court first and then hit inside-out forehand, making him hit a running backhand slice.

    If you still can't do anything with the return, it's back to the drawing board :)

  13. Rui

    Rui Rookie

    Jul 25, 2007
    Yes, it is very difficult to be offensive with it. Very. So I wouldn't recommend it. A drop shot can be offensive, but often a bad idea. Conservatively, slice it back to his BH. Don't follow it in. Keep doing it until you get that floater you can attack.
  14. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Dec 28, 2008
    Post #7 got it.
    Hit extreme sidespin, along with your normal top or slice. The amount depending on what you can control and what depth is needed. Sidespin is your depth control.
  15. user92626

    user92626 Legend

    Jan 27, 2008
    I had a similar problem in recent games...

    Has anyone played against a short opponent who uses your relatively high bouncing topspin shots to "overhead" the ball back to you?

    I mean, any shot that was her head level or higher, she's about 5'2, she would "overhead" it back -- flat and downward since the net is only 3ft and won't come up above your knees. It was tough when it came to my backhand side. I found that I lost to UEs more than she missed!
  16. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Dec 28, 2008
    Avoid hitting high balls to forehand within easy reach?
    You can hit high bouncers if you aim 3' inside the sidelines, making opponent run far and wide so it's hard to set up for overhead.
    You can hit DTL to opponent's backhand repeatedly to move opponent to backhand side, then it a wide CC to forehand side.
    Avoid their best shot?
    Slice their low skidder back low and short to them?
  17. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

    Feb 13, 2009
    On shots as low as you describe you have to open your racquet face up to slice it back over the net:


    It is very difficult to hit a topspin shot from a point just above the court surface.

    As LeeD suggests, some pronounced side spin will mean the ball will travel further through the air, giving it a chance to settle back down within the court.

    The classic placement for an offensive shot by you is to slice it down the line and charge the net.
    The "chip and charge" was more common in the smaller racquet/pre poly strings era, but is still a viable option.
    From your position near net you are forcing him to try and pass you with a running forehand - not an easy shot for most. Hugging the line, the advantage should be yours to hit a winning volley into the open court.


    [An alternative is a short cross court drop shot on occasion, if it seems he is rushing to get to into position for your DTL slice to his forehand before you have even hit your shot.]

    You don't want to hit a your slice right back to your opponent in the backhand corner (unless his backhand is much worse than his forehand), as he has so much open court in front of him, while you would be forced to madly scramble to your right to try and cover it.

    You also probably don't want to try and retreat back to the baseline after being drawn in so far to get a low wide ball from your opponent well inside the service line. It is unlikely you'll ever make it back there in time. Instead, you'll be forced to watch an easy winner go by as you retreat off balance and out of position.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2012

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